Arts and culture

Tampa Bay & Company

It's that time of year when Florida goes on sale. In addition to the back-to-school Sales Tax Holiday that runs Friday through Sunday, this weekend also kicks off Dine Tampa Bay.

For the next two weeks, restaurants in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater will offer three-course, pre-fixed meals. Patrons can get an appetizer, entree and dessert for $25, $35 or $45, depending on the restaurant.

The mugshot website industry is booming – especially in Florida.

Florida has liberal open-records laws, and different entities take advantage of that to gather mugshots, organize them and post them on line.

But what happens next is a form of “highway robbery,” according to Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute’s Sense-making Project.

Reputation-defender businesses will charge up to $400 to get your mugshot off that website.

“Some of these sites are engaging in what seems like a legal form of extortion,” McBride said.

Old City Hall Clock Tower's Facelift Almost Complete

Jul 31, 2012

She's almost a hundred years old but not too old to get a facelift. They call her "Hortense the Beautiful" and she's the old city hall clock tower in Downtown Tampa. She's been an iconic image for the city and has been under much needed renovations.

From ground level, Hortense the Beautiful may not seem to show her age. But standing ten stories high on metal scaffolding, up close and personal, you can see every blemish on her face.

The 1915 clock tower needed its leaky copper roof and dome replaced. Cracked terracotta had to be patched. The clock even needed new hands.

Skip Roping isn't in the Olympics yet, but competitors hope it will be soon. USF's Sun Dome plays host, this week, to the World Championship Skip Roping... or as Americans like to call it,  jump roping competition.

Skip Roping requires agility, speed, stamina and coordination. The competitions range from double dutch or single to speed.  

Becky Zelewski works for USA Jump Rope, the organization coordinating the event.  

It's hard to believe, but it was only about 100 years ago that we stopped walking everywhere and started using other means of transportation.

Now, you may take a walk around the block a couple of times for some exercise, but when was the last time you walked to the store, or to work?

Well, for seven days in July, Tampa Bay Times reporter Ben Montgomery went walking -- everywhere.

Back in 2008, "Boston" Bill Hansbury was learning to live with a prosthetic after losing his leg to an infection. That's when he met Jake Bainter, who was about to have his right leg amputated. The two struck up a friendship, despite a wide gap in their ages — Hansbury was 70, and Bainter was 7.

The pair recently discussed their friendship, and other topics, during a visit to StoryCorps in St. Petersburg, Fla.

"Boston Bill, tell me about the day that we met," says Jake, now 12.

A study by the GPS maker TomTom confirms what many bay-area drivers already know: that getting around Tampa is no picnic. According to the 2012 TomTom Congestion Index, Tampa has the fifth-worst traffic  in North America.

With the help of millions of GPS users, the study compared estimated travel times with how long it actually took folks to get from Point A to Point B during rush hour. The most congested cities were:

Rob Tornoe, Poynter

If you’re a steelworker in West Virginia or furniture maker in North Carolina, you might be experiencing schadenfreude right now.

That’s because outsourcing has come to a white-collar industry: journalism.

“This American Life” recently brought us the story of Journatic, which paid Filipino workers as little as 40 cents a story to cover things like the new city budget in suburban Chicago.

Dali Museum

A new exhibit -- "The Royal Inheritance: Dali Works from the Spanish National Collection" -- features 12 paintings in Dali's possession when he died in 1989.  

According to the Dali Museum, the collection contains early still life, nudes, portraits of Gala, stereoptic paintings, and rarely-seen works from 1983 which are considered his final paintings.

The exhibit opens this October and runs through March 2013.

What Americans Earn

Jul 16, 2012

With all the talk about what to do with the Bush tax cuts — and whether they should be extended for no one, everyone, or everyone under a certain income cutoff — we thought it made sense to check in on how much Americans actually make.

Roughly $50,000. That's how much the median households makes in income and benefits per year. In other words, half of American households made less than $50,000 and half made more.

Art lovers in Pinellas County have a new virtual watering hole. is an offshoot of Creative Pinellas, a nonprofit started last year to promote and fund the local arts scene.

The new website is anchored by six blogs:

On Florida's northeast coast, trams filled with families and school groups run constantly in St. Augustine, hitting nearly all of the old city's historic sites.

But down a side street lies an important piece of St. Augustine's history most visitors don't see, because it's only open one day a month.

"This is Tolomato Cemetery. It was formerly the parish cemetery for what is now the cathedral parish," says Elizabeth Gessner, who heads the cemetery's preservation association.

You've probably heard about how CNN and Fox News screwed up the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act.

It's "Dewey Defeats Truman" all over again.

So how did the big news organizations get it wrong, and the five-person SCOTUSblog, with only one credentialed journalist, get it right?

Hot tea on a hot day? Not for me, thank you. Not my idea of how to cool down.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

You may have been putting off a trip to the new Salvador Dalí Museum because you've already seen the artwork inside.

But what about the artwork on the outside -- as in, the building itself? A new ranking says the St. Petersburg structure is worth a visit for its architecture alone.

The arts and culture website recently released this list of the world's 20 most beautiful museums, in no apparent order.

Herschell Gordon Lewis is cheerfully ambivalent about his place in film history. "What's really puzzling: if you go to a legitimate distributor such as Netflix, Netflix has a number of my movies," says Lewis from his home in Florida. "And again, that's a very sad commentary on what's going on in the world of motion pictures — but I'm not about to object to it."

Landrau / Flickr

If all press is good press, then Tampa Bay is on top of the world. After Men's Health declared Tampa the most vain city in America last month, this week the region received two more dubious honors.

In the 1960s, Al Black could be found cruising up and down Route 1 in his blue-and-white Ford Galaxy — with a trunk full of wet landscape paintings.

At the time, he was a salesman who could snatch your breath away and sell it back to you. As artist Mary Ann Carroll puts it, he could "sell a jacket to a mosquito in summer."

"A salesman is a con-man," Black readily admits himself today. He's a storyteller. And does he have stories to tell.

In the 1960s and '70s, if you were in a doctor's office, or a funeral home, or a motel in Florida, chances are a landscape painting hung on the wall. Palms arching over the water, or moonlight on an inlet. Tens of thousands of paintings like this were created by a group of self-taught African-American artists, concentrated in Fort Pierce, Fla.

Ambro /

For retired singles looking for love, Florida has all the right places -- or at least most of them.

A new survey by the 50-plus dating website ranks the Top 10 U.S. Cities for Retired Singles Looking for Love. Seven are in Florida:

1. Ocala
2. Cape Coral
3. Bradenton
4. Delray Beach

5. Mesa, Ariz.
6. Naples
7. Clearwater
8. Boynton Beach
9. Vancouver, Wash.
10. Salem, Ore.